WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — As News 8 first reported, the President and CEO of Post University, John Hopkins, has opted to shut down the Waterbury campus and switch to all virtual learning for the rest of this school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But some student-athletes say they’d like spring sports to still happen.
In a video message to the school community on Facebook released Monday, Oct. 19, Pres. Hopkins explained his decision is all about keeping everyone safe.
“As much as I want to bring you back to campus, to cheer on our athletic teams, socialize and experience something more typical to what you envisioned, this pandemic is real and has real consequences,” he said. “It is not going away.”
News 8 met with members of the baseball team Tuesday who are once again seeing the pandemic strike out their season. The team shutdown when the pandemic first hit back in March and now their spring season is about to get benched, too.
“It hurts a lot, it’s devastating,” said Post baseball player, Daniel Raglievicz. “I’ve worked my whole life, worked really hard so I can play college baseball and it’s just terrible having it taken away from me and my teammates like that.”
He and his teammates are now stepping up to the plate to see if they can work with the administration and try to salvage some of their season.
Pitcher Kalib Clark started a petition to save all spring sports. It’s now hit more than 1,000 signatures.
“We definitely feel like with the amount of other schools — other Division I, Division II, Division III schools across the country — even Connecticut — are on the field,” Clark said. “They’re practicing right now. They’re working out with their team. We’d like to make some common ground with our president. We’d like to find a way to make this doable.”
“Your health and safety continues to be my priority,” said President Hopkins on the Facebook video message. “This is not a decision I wanted to make but that am comfortable making because it puts your first.”
“I appreciate that he has our health and safety in mind,” Daniel said. “But, I do feel this decision was made a little prematurely. It’s only October. The spring season, which would start in March, is still five months away. A lot can happen before then.”
“There are a lot of grown men on this team who are over 20, 21, 22, 23-years-old and their opinions need to be valued more,” said Post baseball player, Mike Lisinicchia.
To soften the blow, student-athletes will not lose a year of eligibility and Post will offer a tuition reduction for traditional campus-based undergraduates of $6,500 — that’s a 56% reduction for the spring semester.
Monday, Oct. 26, students protested the decision to cancel spring sports, demanding the university “Let Us Play!”
In a statement released Monday, Oct. 26, Pres. Hopkins said he heard the athlete’s concerns and shares their disappointment in the spring season’s cancelation, but “we stand by our decision, as it is the only way to guarantee that every member of our community would not be impacted by the spread of this disease, including the many coaches, and associates, who would also be putting themselves and members of their immediate family at risk for exposure.”
He went on to say the university “firmly supports freedom of expression and meaningful dialogue” and the school supports students who organize, “even though they are expressing opposition to the University’s decisions. Part of our academic process is to empower our students to advocate for their beliefs. We are proud of their decision to hold a thoughtful, civil demonstration. From diplomacy and accountability, to mobilization and communication, activism will prepare our student-athletes to become engaged global citizens.”